Changing to a Collaborative Mind-set

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The core of the problem with getting your organization to move from a traditional set of tools to a more social route is largely due to change management. In this blog we touch on a few of the barriers organizations encounter and discuss techniques we have found successful in overcoming these challenges.

First, let’s look at some of the important barriers:

  • Barrier 1: Employees who don’t get collaboration

While Facebook has nearly 850 million users with an average age of 38 and Twitter has more than 300 million with an average age of 39, almost every organization will have employees who are not connected to social media in their everyday lives. As a result, these employees are not as readily able to plug into collaboration tools at work. Driving user adoption among these employees can be particularly challenging. Overcoming and motivating adoption is not only about helping users figure out the new tools, but changing how those tools are perceived and used within the workplace.

  • Barrier 2: The misconception that deploying collaboration tools is only an IT task

Because collaboration does involve technology tools, it is common for employees to believe that the IT team needs to simply deploy the new technology in order for it to work and that’s it. For example, an enterprise moving from an open source email system to Microsoft Exchange, employees might think, it’s just an IT problem all they need to do is take my old inbox and transfer it to my new inbox, then give me a user manual for how to use it. In reality, transitioning to Microsoft Exchange and deploying is an IT task, but promoting user adoption, governing how the application is used, and enabling a new kind of collaboration among employees are all organizational concerns.

  • Barrier 3: Disincentives to collaboration

Most organizations promote collaboration in theory, but in practice there are often powerful disincentives to collaboration; emanating from both the organization’s structure and culture.

In order to overcome these barriers, one has to look at the organizational culture. The ease or difficulty associated with an enterprise collaboration deployment depends heavily on both institutionalized incentives and a collaborative culture. In enterprises where sharing is generally discouraged, driving adoption of collaboration tools can be extremely difficult because it involves changing the organization’s culture. Let us look at a few change management techniques.

  • Technique 1: Pick a set of early adopters to evangelize others on the new collaboration tool

While leadership from the top an executive to champion adoption of the collaboration tool is often a critical element of success, having a group of early adopters to actively evangelize their peers on the new tool can be a highly effective strategy as well. In particular, when fear,my manager doesn’t want me to collaborate, is one of the barriers to user adoption of the collaboration tool, then evangelizers really need to walk the talk to demonstrate to other employees, the benefits of collaboration.

  • Technique 2: Mandate the use of the collaboration tool

In some cases, an enterprise’s leaders decide the easiest and/or most effective way to drive user adoption of the new collaboration tool, is to make it the only communication tool available to shut down the old system, forcing people to use the new system in order to complete their tasks. A halfway point between shutting down the existing system and sitting back and allowing for organic strongly, actively, and consistently encourages the use of the new collaboration tool in place of the old tool.

  • Technique 3: Change the incentives

Because barriers of user adoption include organizational and cultural disincentives, changing incentives will be a critical component of driving user adoption.

From changing organizational incentives and even mandating adoption, there are a number of change management techniques you can leverage to overcome barriers of user adoption, the most critical determinant of collaboration success.

If you would like to discuss these ideas and techniques we have used to help our clients achieve, then please stop by our booth number 450 at the Enterprise 2.0 | June 18- 21 2012 | Boston

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